Tuesday, 28 February 2012

La Ciel Chromatique part 2

Although I'm not the sort of person that likes to reminisce, I am am unable to stop the fact the fact that I miss some things. I miss my other half. I miss having money. I miss having a working oven. I miss being five years old, having no idea what a paedophile was, building a machine that would kill santa and making thrones out of mud. But most of all, I miss this blog. No. Really. I miss the days where I updated this every single day. After a while I updated it every two days. Two days became four days. Four days became a week. I haven't updated this in almost a month as most of you are probably aware. Which is sad. Ah well. Here's to the 50th attempt at consistency. Updates in my life: Got an interview on Thursday, struggling a little with a massive report due in a couple of weeks, and I'm still a reclusive alcoholic. Going to crack on and discuss my favourite albums from last year, continuing from part 1 a few weeks back.

5.Battles - Gloss Drop
When Tinkerbell takes a dump
In my humble opinion, no 'top albums of 2011' list should be complete without Battles' Gloss Drop. After their solid debut, Mirrored, the band have since shed their lead singer and replaced him with a number of guest vocalists (including Gary Numan, oddly enough) on this release. Battles pretty much do experimental music for people that hate experimental music. The sounds are unique, but the melodies have a playful, childish quality, bursting with energy. The fact that John Stanier (one of my favourite drummers) happens to be on this album also made this an incredibly joyous listen.

4.The Beach Boys - Smile
This is a bit of a weird one. Smile was originally recorded in 1966/1967, but if you know much about the Beach Boys, you'll know that front man Brian Wilson flipped his shit and hid in his room for a few years smoking weed before the recording process was complete. Since then, the mythical album was released in various forms - Smiley Smile was released in 1967, further Smile bootlegs were leaked in the early nineties, and Brian Wilson re-recorded and released the album under his own name in 2004. But is this just the band/record label completely milking the public for the naive fools we are? Probably. Regardless, this version is known as 'The Smile sessions' and it's probably the closest we're ever going to get to hearing the original album as it was intended. Gritty and hard-hitting it ain't. But the group's voice harmonisations and melodic psychedelia touch on a exciting part in musical history, which stands out as a fantastic album even today.

3.Oneohtrix Point Never - Replica
A journey through an endless, industrial jungle from the 1980s with with all of humanity wiped out. Filmed by Stanley Kubrick. On acid. I'm not quite sure how else I can describe this album. It has the most exciting and unique sounds to come out of any experimental ambient album I've heard in my life. The synthesizers chop and change; they buzz angrily, they provide a heartbeat, they softly sigh as if they were featuring on the Blade Runner soundtrack. The samples used on the album are mostly from adverts from the 1980s, funnily enough, but rather than lazily giving the album cheesy excerpts, the sounds are extremely well crafted into intricate, emotional pieces.

2. Colin Stetson - New History Warfare 2: Judges
Try playing 'Careless Whisper' on that beast
Before this album, I'd never heard of a bass saxophone in my life. I suppose I just assumed everyone was playing an elaborate prank on me for a while. But 'Judges' has turned out to be my favourite album of 2011 along with the next entry. Although labelled as avant-garde, Stetson's playing is anything but. Wild, skilful, and completely unpredictable, the sax is completely transformed as an instrument, into something dark and shadowy. Having mastered the art of circular breathing, Stetson achieves fast, uninterrupted playing which will stomp all over any ideas you had of the saxophone being nothing but a platform for cheesy pop or jazz.

1. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
Giving absolutely no thanks to the generic garbage that is Mumford & Sons, I acquired an opinion that was pretty much "Once you've heard one acoustic-indie sort of band, you've heard them all because they are generic pieces of shit" last year. That was until I gave Helplessness Blues a listen. Fleet Foxes aren't terribly unique with their formula (well crafted acoustic playing with a vocalist that sounds like a bleating lamb), but they manage to execute it amazingly well. The Shrine/An Argument touches my soul in a way not a lot of music does, and the album flows exceptionally well. The tracks aren't cluttered in any way,  each instrument is arranged so that it could be argued that any one of them is the centrepiece of the track. There are inspired appearances from a number of instruments and the lyrics are a beautiful compliment to the entire album.

Changed my mind this time, and I'm linking to the songs on youtube instead of making them available for download. It's probably easier for both of us that way. So here's a little selection of some of my favourite tracks from 2011. They come with the usual warning of the music varying heavily. I was going to put them in some sort of order depending on how weird or experimental I thought each track was, but it became a fruitless exercise. Enjoy -

Oneohtrix Point Never - Up
The Vaccines - Norgaard
Fleet Foxes - The Shrine/An Argument
Colin Stetson - A Dream of Water
Primus  - Tragedy's a Comin'
Battles - Ice Cream
Protest the Hero - Hair Trigger
The Beach Boys - Surf's Up

I'm suddenly becoming annoyed at really stupid things. One of my dickhead flatmates tied up a full bin bag and just left it in the kitchen, and they think it's a good idea to keep opening the windows in this freezing cold shithole of a flat. So I better end the blog now.

Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. I know what you mean! I hate to reminisce too, but some times you gotta remember the good when surounded by bad! Your roommates seem like assholes! I hope you give 'em hell! (and by hell I mean turn up the heat and close the windows!
    I hope you get back to regular blogging!